In Colorado, A County Commissioner’s Boulder-Dash
Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones made headlines earlier this month when she debated Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper over the state’s regulation of oil and gas development. Before she was elected to public office last year, Commissioner Jones was the executive director of the Colorado Environmental Coalition for more than a decade.
Unfortunately, her debate performance shows the transition from advocacy to public service has been a little rough. Instead of engaging Gov. Hickenlooper in a substantive discussion about how to meet Colorado’s existing and future energy needs, Commissioner Jones resorted to the kind of scare tactics used routinely by fringe groups like Food & Water Watch or actor Mark Ruffalo’s activist group, Water Defense.
Commissioner Jones used to work for environmental activists, but now she works for taxpayers, and they deserve better than this kind of fear mongering. Here are some of the worst examples:
For those interested in more detail, here are some more extensive quotes from the sources Energy In Depth cited in the video above:
U.S. Department of Energy, Ground Water Protection Council, April 2009
“Hydraulic fracturing has been a key technology in making shale gas an affordable addition to the Nation’s energy supply, and the technology has proven to be a safe and effective stimulation technique. Ground water is protected during the shale gas fracturing process by a combination of the casing and cement that is installed when the well is drilled and the thousands of feet of rock between the fracture zone and any fresh or treatable aquifers.”
Ken Salazar, former U.S. Interior Secretary, for U.S. Senator from Colorado and former Colorado Attorney-General, 2/15/2012
“There’s a lot of hysteria that takes place now with respect to hydraulic fracking, and you see that happening in many of the states. … My point of view, based on my own study of hydraulic fracking, is that it can be done safely and has been done safely hundreds of thousands of times.”
Heather Zichal, White House Energy and Climate Adviser, 5/14/2012
“We know that natural gas can safely be developed, and to the credit of the industry there are many companies that are leaning into this challenge and promoting best practices for safer and more efficient production. That’s not always widely noticed or appreciated, but it’s a fact. … [T]he underlying commitment by industry to continuously improve and adopt effective practices as technology evolves is something our administration applauds.”
IHS Global Insight and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 12/19/2012
“The economic activity associated with unconventional oil and gas directly and indirectly supported over 77,000 jobs in the state in 2012, with many of these jobs in construction and manufacturing at relatively high wages. … There is also the contribution of unconventional oil and gas employment to government revenues. In Colorado in 2012, it generated nearly $3 billion in taxes for state and federal coffers. This includes over $1.4 billion in state and local taxes, or the equivalent of 15% of the state’s 2011 tax revenues.”
Northern Colorado Gazette, 5/1/2012
“Anadarko Petroleum Corporation presented a $52 million check representing the company’s 2011 ad valorem taxes to Weld County during a special presentation held at Anadarko’s newly constructed regional office in Evans.
The revenue will ensure the county continues to retain its strong fiscal footing. Despite Weld County being larger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, it remains the only county in the state with no long term debt.”
Colorado Division of Water Resources, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 1/19/2012
“[T]he amount of water currently used for hydraulic fracturing in Colorado is a small portion of the total amount of water used. In 2010, it reflected slightly less than one-tenth of one percent of the total water used. In 2015, it is projected to increase by 4,800 acre-feet to slightly more than one-tenth of one percent of the total water used.”
“Americans Want More Emphasis on Solar, Wind, Natural Gas … No fewer than two in three Americans want the U.S. to put more emphasis on producing domestic energy using solar power (76%), wind (71%), and natural gas (65%).”
Business Council for Sustainable Energy, 1/31/2013
“For wind power in particular, cheaper gas has made it difficult to compete economically, though the one-year extension of the Production Tax Credit in 2013 has strengthened the business case for wind in the short term. Yet gas generators, which are inherently flexible technologies that can be easily ramped up and down to meet demand, are natural counterparts for variable resources such as wind and solar. Other options, such as combined heat and power (CHP), and fuel cell installations, which draw on natural gas for fuel, have become more competitive as natural gas prices decline.”
Solar Energy Industries Association, Climate Desk, 1/31/2013
“Celebrities including Mark Ruffalo, Matt Damon, and Yoko Ono have aligned themselves with green groups like the Sierra Club to come out steadfastly against gas because of fracking, the drilling technique that harvests most of it, citing concerns about water and air contamination. Meanwhile others, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Environmental Defense Fund, have boosted fracking as a ‘bridge’ to wean the US off of coal, and usher in more renewables, a process that is already underway.
But a report released this morning makes it clear that the renewables industry sees itself in the latter camp, forming an unexpected alliance with the natural gas industry, since both groups are intent on giving coal the boot. The informal partnership should be a PR boon to the embattled gas industry, which has spent the last several years trying to allay concerns from the public and policymakers by shouting over the anti-fracking fracas.
‘Natural gas and renewables complement each other very nicely,’ Rhone Resch, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said this morning at a press conference for the release of Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s 2013 Factbook, an exhaustive analysis of the state of clean energy in America…
‘I think it can happen: In the next 30 years we’re going to have 50 percent renewables and 50 percent natural gas,’ Resch said, referring to the breakdown of US energy generation. Natural gas can fill the gap when renewables go intermittant, he said, ramping up when the wind stops or the sun goes down; meanwhile, renewables, which are growing even faster than natural gas, can pick up the slack left by a waning coal industry.”
U.S. Department of Energy, 10/24/2011
“How does natural gas power generation compare to coal-fired power generation
on a life cycle GHG basis? … Average natural gas baseload power generation has life cycle GHG emissions 53% lower than average coal baseload power generation.”
U.S. Energy Information Administration, Associated Press, 8/16/2012
“In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.”
International Energy Agency, 5/24/2012
“CO2 emissions in the United States in 2011 fell by 92 Mt, or 1.7%, primarily due to ongoing switching from coal to natural gas in power generation and an exceptionally mild winter, which reduced the demand for space heating. US emissions have now fallen by 430 Mt (7.7%) since 2006, the largest reduction of all countries or regions. This development has arisen from lower oil use in the transport sector (linked to efficiency improvements, higher oil prices and the economic downturn which has cut vehicle miles travelled) and a substantial shift from coal to gas in the power sector.”
U.S. Department of Energy, January 2012
“All hydrocarbon fuels release significant quantities of water vapor as a combustion byproduct. … When one molecule of methane is burned, it produces two molecules of water vapor. When moles are converted to pound/mole, we find that every pound of methane fuel combusted produces 2.25 lb. of water vapor, which is about 12% of the total exhaust by weight.”
Colorado Oil & Gas Association, 6/25/2012
“Since a volume measurement of H2O is easier to interpret than pounds of water, we want to convert our 2.25 lb yield of H2O into gallons. … Our calculations show the combustion of 1 pound of methane results in the production 3.71 gallons of water and that 1 BCF of methane produces over 11 million gallons of water.”
U.S. Department of Energy, Ground Water Protection Council, April 2009
“The amount of water needed to drill and fracture a horizontal shale gas well generally ranges from about 2 million to 4 million gallons, depending on the basin and formation characteristics. While these volumes may seem very large, they are small by comparison to some other uses of water, such as agriculture, electric power generation, and municipalities … Calculations indicate that water use for shale gas development will range from less than 0.1% to 0.8% of total water use by basin.”
Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, 11/8/2012
“Arbitrary setbacks will actually harm the environment, resulting in an ecological-takings by further fragmenting open space … Limiting landowners’ ability to strike the necessary balance of well placement with the protection of agriculture viability and environmental conservation threatens society’s access to affordable food, open space and energy. Not to mention taking a step backward from Colorado’s stance on responsible development of our oil and gas resources.”